The race I was training for … the ASICS Greater Manchester Marathon 2018. It had been a long six months of training but the BIG day finally arrived, on 8th April 2018.
Please read Part one of my Manchester Marathon 2018 race recap, to see how my build up to the race was and how my race weekend started.
I planned to wear my purple #teamsimon t-shirt for the race. However, since it was so warm so early at parkrun the previous day, I thought it best to go with my Stopsley Striders vest instead.
My alarm went off at 6:30. There was no need to get up that early though, as I was so close to the race HQ. The hotel were kindly starting the breakfast service earlier, especially for Marathon runners. I decided against indulging though, as I had trained with minimal nutrition, I also raced Bedford 20 miler fasted – I didn’t want to change anything on race day. I just ended up making a black coffee in my room. Vicki and Maria would get in touch with me when they were close to arriving, I had ample time. At around 7:10, I actually got up and showered and got race ready. I even stuck my hand out the window to see how warm or cold it actually was, it seemed quite warm. There was no need to put anything in baggage.
Looking out the window, I could see all the runners starting to arrive. I could feel the race day nerves building up. It was cool to see the once empty car park, starting to fill. To hear the quietness turn to a low hum from all the people gathering around and talking. And of course the lines for the portoloos grew and grew. It made me feel lucky that I was so close and didn’t have to queue to use the loo. I then got a message that Vicki and Maria were a minute away. It was time to get out there and join my fellow runners. I’m not going to lie, I did feel a wave of butterflies flush through my stomach! 🙂
We hadn’t agreed an actual meeting point, but luckily It wasn’t too difficult to find them. Vicky kindly picked up one of those silver foil blankets for me, as she knew I wasn’t going to bring a jacket. I didn’t need it straight away – but it did come in handy later on whilst standing at the race start. We made our way over to the portoloos for Vicky and Maria. On the way we bumped into another Stopsley Strider, Valerie with her husband. They had just arrived and were going over to baggage. Unfortunately, we did not see Valerie for the rest of the race. We also bumped into Andy, another Strider, who was also going for his last nervous wee. 😀 The four of us all made our way to start line after taking a few selfies of course!
The walk from the race HQ to the actual start pens, seemed quite far away – I worked it out and it was about 1 mile. We all nervously chatted away, whilst observing some of the amazing fancy dress costumes people were willing to run 26.2 miles in! We had all been placed in pen G. It was Andy’s first marathon as well. We were discussing our “game plans”!
Although I love to run and chat with people on social runs, in a race setting I normally prefer to run on my own. I find, if I am racing with others, I get a little anxious – asking myself internal questions like… Can I keep up with them? Can they keep up with me? Am I talking too much (probably)? Am I not talking enough (depends how fast we’re running)?… It’s all too much to think about! Vicki is the same (not sure about the internal questions though).
We all agreed that we’d all start off together, and then make are own way if, and when, we wanted. Andy has proved to be a faster runner, and although he never actually said what time he was going for, I think he was aiming for around 4h 15m. Myself and Vicky are similarly paced – my target was 4h 26m and Vicky’s was around 4h 24m. Maria was aiming for 5h.
I was thankful for the foil blanket now, as we stood waiting to start. There was a slight chill in the air more noticeable when standing still and because I was only in a vest. I hadn’t noticed it earlier, it must have been all the excitement and adrenaline floating around me. We were quite far back from the start line and couldn’t hear the official start. Just after 9 am the crowd of runners in front of us, started to slowly creep forwards, and then we knew the race was on its way. It took us 12 minutes to cross the start line. Maria decided to hang back with the 5h pacer. Vicki, Andy and I wished Maria and each other good luck and continued on.
I had expected that as soon as the race got underway, that we would all split off and go our separate ways. But as a welcome surprise we stuck together. We started off at a comfortable-ish pace of around 6:10 min/km. Ok, it was a little faster than 6:16 min/km that my plan called for, but it is nearly always like that at the start of a race… isn’t it? However, it was considerably slower than the average pace I did at the Bedford 20 mile race just a few weeks back.
Running with Vicki and Andy did help me to slow my pace down a little, as I could definitely have gone off too eagerly. It was good to run together, we chatted a little and took in the crowds at the early stages. The first water station came at around 3.5 miles. It was getting a little warm but definitely nice running temperature. They had small bottles of water which was perfect. I did intend to walk at the water stations, but as I felt good and was running with the others who showed no sign of stopping, I carried on. I actually had forgotten about walk breaks at this point.
We were going strong. We kept together as much as possible. Only separating to run around, to overtake, groups of runners. The first 10 km took 1:00:54 in a pace of 6:05 min/km. This was bang on Andy’s target but a little on the fast side for Vicki and I. The next water station was just after the 10 km mark. Vicki also decided to hang back and run at her actual race pace. I still felt ok so decided to continue on with Andy.
It got a little more serious. Less of the talking and more concentration on running. Andy was going well, and I was happy that I could still keep up with him. There was still a lot of spectators at this point, not as much as before, but definitely no bare patches. They just willed you through it. High fives here and shout outs there. A definite boost to keep me running.
I was trying to look out for other instagram runners, who I was aware of were either spectating or also running. There were several spots along the way, where the route goes out and back so you will pass runners ahead of you. I did see one guy and he also recognised me, we did a stretched out hi-five as he sped passed. I would have been at about 16 km (10 miles) and he would have been at 24 km (15 miles).
A little while later, it came to me, that I had run without stopping for the water stations as I had planned. Although I still felt ok, with in reason, I did know that I had never run this distance in training without the stops. It was time to start to incorporate the water station breaks back in. I didn’t think about whether the effect of not doing this, earlier was problematic or not. But I thought it best to start doing them whilst I remembered. I informed Andy of my plans and let him know that I would be stopping to walk at the next water station. The next one came at just around 19 km.
I did stop to walk after collecting my next bottle of water. The weather was a little on the warm side, but cool enough that I was not desperate to rehydrate. After the first couple of water stations, I was not able to drink a whole bottle in one go. I would drink a little, and keep it with me and drink as and when I needed. By the time the bottle ran out I was nearing the next water station and could replace it.
The next 10 km took 1:01:48 in a pace of 6:05 min/km. This brings the 20 km to 2:02:48 at almost the half way mark. If I could only keep up this pace, I would be laughing! 😀
After my walk break, which lasted around 1m 30s, I got back to the business of running. I am lucky that stopping to walk doesn’t stop me from getting back in running mode. Possibly from my couch to 5k beginnings. I had it in my head that I needed to catch back up to Andy. My first two 1 km splits reflected this as they came in at 5:56 and 5:46 splits, before getting back down to my average of 6:15. I did manage to catch back up to Andy, we would only run for about 1-1.5km together before the next water station came along. Of course I stopped to walk again and then repeated the process.
This 10 km section took me 1:01:51. Although I have slowed down a little, it still shows that I was pretty consistent. This brought the 30 km total time to 3:04:39! Pleased with that!
After 30 km I definitely could feel the affects of the distance on my body. My pace was slowing down to an average of 6:53 min/km. Most 1 km splits were closer to 6:30 min/km pace but a few went to well over 7:00 min/km. I was able to play catch up with Andy until the 35 km mark. At this point I couldn’t do the fast pace I needed to reach him again. And my slower pace was getting slower. Andy did so well. He didn’t stop once. I was so impressed. In my head I was thinking I could have done the same, but I probably would have slowed down much more overall.
I was glad to have reached 35 km with no real issues. I was now well in unknown territory. Not because I hadn’t run this far before, as I had, but because it was the first time using no additional nutrition. At this point the only things I had consumed was a black coffee and a few bottles of water. I started to get in my head… could I really last the whole thing? Will I collapse at the end? Should I do something to preempt it? Where did that feeling come from? It was like an evolved form of taper tantrums.
To help ease my mind I took one of the Dextrose tablets that Maria had brought me. I took another at 40 km too! Easy to chew on and they dissolve in the mouth very easily and quickly. Did I need them? … who really knows. They did help to calm my mind though.
This 10 km section took me the longest at 1:08:57. Still not a bad time for a 10km on its own, let alone the last quarter of a marathon. This brought the 40 km total time to 4:13:36
As you can see from the pace and elevation profile above, I did a sort of run-walk over the last 3 km. The last 3km were run at a pace of 7:33, 6:54, 6:54 respectively. Walking for 1 minute and running for 4-5 minutes. I so wished I could have kept running. But it can’t be helped.
Coming in, that last 200m though, I found my pace again. So much of it came from the crowd cheering us through the finish line. It really made it for a great finish.
I ran Manchester Marathon 2018 in 4 hours 29 minutes and 33 seconds! 😀 😀 😀
I was definitely smiling at that. Managing to achieve a sub-5 hour time, has been something I have been longing for since my very first marathon. I never thought I could have achieved that back then. My training goal was missed by 2 min 43 seconds though, but who cares.
I really enjoyed running Manchester Marathon. The crowd support was fab the whole way round. There were no empty spots at all that I could remember. It was well organised and of course a lovely medal and a free beer to boot.
A definite great marathon experience and I was so glad to have shared it with others this time.
See how the race went, please watch my video recap below. 🙂
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